Sunday, July 16, 2006

Pampered Lot? (2006- Malaysian Today)

Pampered Lot?

ARE our Malaysian athletes a pampered lot and who demand a great?

If present days are compared to yesteryears sportsmen and women, there is no doubt that the current athletes are indeed a pampered lot.

But the argument would be that times have changed and sport now plays an integral part of the society.

Agreed. But then should not the results in sports be better than yesterday years.

Outstanding achievements and rankings in the world of several sports were attained twenty thirty years ago, when facilities were at bare minimum, the assistance of top level and foreign coaches virtually missing, support and funding from government also minimum or non-existence, hardly any rewards offered for achievements and the benefit of overseas training stints being rare or nil.

Presently, with ultra modern facilities which are world-class, availability of top coaches both from locally and foreign, full support from the government including scholarships to further education, high rewards in terms of cash and material and not only regular overseas training stints, but being based overseas for long term periods and more recently even the setting up of a permanent training centre in London, athletes are still unable to produce the desired results and put Malaysia on higher grounds in the world arena.

Now we have to ask if the present day athletes are a lot pampered who have lost the drive for success, glory and honour and some are even branded as “spoilt-brats.”

There have been cases of athletes who had the benefit of overseas stints on a long term period together with education, but at the end hold bodies like the National Sports Council (NSC) and National Associations (NA) are ransom.

These athletes, either demand more from the NSC or NA every time while they are based overseas, or at the end of their stint of studies, do no want to return to Malaysia to repay the dues and knowledge they have gathered over the years.

Then, there are those who are recalled back to Malaysia to continue training on home soil, who refuse to return and threaten to quit the sports if they are forced to return.

There are others who prepared to return, provided they are given the same remunerations as they were when they were based overseas.

Of course, we also have home based athletes who are continuously asking for better remunerations, but have not produces results to equate the spending and returns.
The Government, through the Ministry of Sports and NSC, has continuously been trying to improve the status of athletes in the country, and presently there are great opportunities and is worthwhile for athletes, to make sports a career.

Even coaches have been recognised and athletes after their prime, can become coaches and earn a decent living.

Yet, Malaysia is still struggling to make a strong impact in many sports and in some sports where achievements are forthcoming, it is not on a consistent basis.

There is no doubt that NSC is taking a serious view on the matter, and unless the athletes can change their mind-set, work towards excellence with great passion, and be consistent, they could be up against some censures.

As much as the Government supports sports, there needs to be accountability too.

The Doha Asian Games in December, will be a yardstick to measure some amount of success especially from the elite athletes and after which, there is a strong indication that there is going to be stock taking.

The Government cannot be pouring in the money to sports without proper returns.

And the athletes have the onus to prove themselves and repay their dues.

Failing which, they could well be deciding their own fate.

It is not that the Government is going to stop funding if there are no results, but they could well be very selective and probably pay more emphasis on development with the hope of producing a new set of athletes with the right mindset towards sports.

Gone are the days of passion, pride and perfection.

To be fair to the athletes, there are athletes with the above qualities presently, but there out numbered by those who believe that sports owe them a living instead of earning it.

When we have athletes even at the Malaysia Games who hold States at a ransom where they offer their services to the one who pays them the highest, they have become mercenaries.

Even mercenaries can be forgiven, if they return with victory and honour, but when results are not forthcoming, they are only taking the taxpayers for a ride!

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